Bon Mots from Eli

August 30, 2009

“Mommy,” [lovingly pats my belly], “Your belly is getting bigger and bigger!”

“Mommy, your hair is so pretty. I like that it’s two of my favorite colors: brown and silver.”

“When I’m bored, I pick my nose.”

“Today, I’m a guy named Barney Burnrobber.”

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CATEGORIES: thirty second post
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Cheddar Cheese Biscuits

August 28, 2009

I’ve recently added these cheddar cheese biscuits into our usual protein/veggie/starch rotation, because I was getting a little tired of corn bread (and everyone loves rice but it always results in a sticky rice explosion that means I spend my after-meal time scrubbing the floor with a wet dishcloth). The original recipe was in that section of Bon Appetit where people write in and say they had the best such-and-so at some restaurant when they were visiting their niece in City X, and would love the recipe, and then the magazine somehow tracks it down.

So maybe because it was originally a restaurant recipe, it included roughly seven sticks of melted butter, and also called for a large-sized twelve-muffin tin, which I don’t have. Also it required superfluous mixing bowls. Below is my adapted recipe, with less butter, and halved to fit in the standard muffin tins that we all have. What I love: you can mix it in a few minutes in the food processor, and you don’t have to shape or roll out the biscuits, since they bake in the muffin tin. Plus they’re really good.

You will note also that I am now so insane about getting good light for my dinnertime food photos that I am taking dinner outside and putting it in the grass.

Cheddar Cheese Biscuits
1 3/4 cups bread flour (or all-purpose flour if that’s what you have)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups (packed) coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease muffin tin. Using on/off turns, mix first 4 ingredients in processor. Add cubed chilled butter. Using on/off turns, process until coarse meal forms. Add cheese; pulse briefly. Add buttermilk and process until dough comes together. Divide among prepared muffin cups.

Bake biscuits until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 5 to 10 minutes, then remove biscuits from pan and transfer to rack to cool slightly. Serve warm.

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CATEGORIES: baking, Food

Giant Tomato

August 26, 2009

Henry was so excited to pick out this giant tomato from the “seconds” bin at Olivia’s Organics stall at the farmers’ market.*

Little did he know that an over-zealous little sister would nosh on most of it while I was making dinner.**

*Henry had been eating cherries, which is why he has red spots all over his face.

**I am still getting the hang of this new camera. Can’t quite take great photos with it yet.

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CATEGORIES: Food

Get paint to match your Hardieplank siding

August 21, 2009

Ok, this is not the type of thing I normally post about at all, but I wish I had been able to find this information before I figured it out for myself. We’re (slowly) residing our house in prefinished Hardieplank siding. The stuff is great, and it’s so satisfying to put up the siding and be DONE and not have to go back and paint it. You can get touch-up paint for it (to paint the edges, or in case you nick the siding or something), but it comes in this tiny stupid little bottle, the applicator clogs up, and it’s expensive. We wanted more paint, especially so we could paint the backs of some pieces of siding that will be above our porch rooves and may get covered in snow for months at a time.

Dave noticed that the touch-up paint is from Valspar, and that Lowe’s stocks Valspar paint. And so, in a move that ended up being much easier than we anticipated, we brought our siding to Lowe’s, and the paint department called Valspar, who gave them the formula numbers for our paint color (Mountain Sage), and then Lowe’s mixed us up a gallon of paint that matches our siding exactly.

(In other news, did you know that you can also get a can of spray paint that matches your car exactly from a NAPA Auto Parts store? Just tell them your make and model and color, and they can mix it up. This has totally saved us when doing minor body work ourselves. Or, I should say, when Amazing Dave fixes my car for me.)

Ok, that’s the end of posts that don’t apply to most of my readers, I swear.

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CATEGORIES: housekeeping

Little Adults

August 19, 2009

Henry is 6 today. It’s so strange to look at your kid, your little kid, who was just a baby the other day, and to see the adult that he’ll become. A huge part of me can’t even grasp the concept, but I’m also wildly curious, and can’t stop myself from looking at them to see the future adult. Sometimes they’ll give a look where I can see the glimmer, or sometimes when they’re sleeping I can see it, and I see behind the baby cheeks who they will be at 15…at 24…at 30. With Henry I see it more and more, with Eli mostly when he stares into my face with such tenderness and fierceness that it always stops me cold. In Zuzu I haven’t really caught it yet; she’s still such a baby. Though she does look a lot like my mom, so I can extrapolate forward thusly.

I can’t help myself from trying to imagine who they will be in their future selves, and I also can’t imagine a future where I don’t want to hold them in my lap and chew on them a bit.

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CATEGORIES: Parenting

Children’s Books of the Week: D.B. Johnson’s Henry books

August 17, 2009

Henry Hikes to Fitchburg
Henry Builds a Cabin
Henry Works
Henry Climbs a Mountain
written and illustrated by D.B. Johnson

Oh oh oh how we love these books. I got them initially with a vague notion of teaching Henry about Henry David Thoreau, and also because, well, they’re both named Henry. These books are genius. Really. Each story takes one tiny nugget of Thoreau’s life, but one that is emblematic of who he was, and expands on it, and then pairs it with these illustrations that are just so incredible I’m not sure I can even describe them. They’re kind of cubist (and Henry and his friends are bears, mostly), and the modern bent somehow completely works with the distinctly not-modern ideas and stories. All I know is I can’t think of any book that comes close to having this type of non-realistic illustration that is so successful in the story. The drawings have so much to look at and explore (the boys are always finding new animals that they hadn’t noticed before), and also leave so much to the imagination.

Plus, after all that, the stories are great. Each perfectly captures Thoreau’s ideals and life and the reactions of his peers. There’s also a page at the end of each which explains more about where the story came from. There’s a new book called Henry’s Night that we haven’t read yet. I don’t even think I have a favorite because they’re all so good in their own ways, so go to the library and get out whichever one they have.

(I will also say that D.B. Johnson is the illustrator of a book called Zuzu’s Wishing Cake which has nothing to do with Henry David Thoreau, but which we also like. But that if I find out he wrote a book called, I don’t know, Elias and the Diggers or something, I’m checking my house for hidden cameras.)





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Literally falling asleep

August 14, 2009

As we all know, Eli has a history of going full bore until he suddenly, and often dramatically, falls asleep. This was his latest. I didn’t see it happen, but it looked like he was standing near the couch, and then just sort of pitched forward into slumber.

But really, wouldn’t you be tired if you spent the rest of your day living life with this much gusto?

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CATEGORIES: Eli
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Taking a Break

August 11, 2009

I’m taking a break from the cyber madness. You know, we lost six weeks (more?) this summer to rain, and that sort of set me on the wrong path for how I wanted to be a summer parent (though, truthfully, I was already headed down that path). I wanted to have a schedule — albeit a free one. I wanted to have us all learn something every day. Instead, we wander around the house, directionless. I spend too much time doing nothing in particular on the computer (hello, Facebook!) while the children do nothing in particular all over the house (and make a mess while doing it). And so, with just a few weeks left in summer, I’m stopping. I need to pull back. My house is a mess, my list of summer goals is unaccomplished, I rarely exercise, and my children spend way too much time with the too-old-for-them neighborhood children.

We have a book that was Dave’s when he was little, called The Sandwich. It’s an early reader, with only eleven words, repeated in various repetitive sentences. Two children make a sandwich with “more of this, more of that, less of this, less of that. And some bread.” My life is like that sandwich. I need to do less of this (digital puttering), less of that (daily blog posting), and more of this. All this life stuff. And some bread.

I wrote this post out longhand first, and it was bliss.

I have a few saved up posts in the hopper, and I’m going to schedule them over the next week or so. I’ll still check email, but there will be days when I don’t turn the computer on.

And I’ll leave you with this random tip that has been wanting to be a full blog post for a while: for Friday night dinner, make a starch- or grain-based salad to go with the meal (like quinoa salad, or potato salad, or tabbouleh). Then, all weekend, you will be happy to have the leftover salad to go with your sandwich or to mix with greens for lunch.

Ok! Let the breather begin! I’ll be back when school starts (or perhaps sooner if I have something especially blogworthy to say).

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CATEGORIES: Julie

Children’s Book of the Week: Weslandia

August 10, 2009

Weslandia by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

It’s probably a mistake to read this book in mid-August, because it will make your kid feel like they’ve been squandering their summer. No matter. Read it anyway, it’s worth it.

Weslandia is about a smart boy named Wes who is shunned in his town of follow-any-leader conformists, much to the embarrassment of his parents. Wes learns about civilizations during the last week of school, and decides to create his own civilization as a summer project. He is helped along by a breeze that brings some strange seeds, which he grows in his backyard, and which become giant mysterious plants. He eats the fruit, drinks the juice, weaves clothes from the leaves and stalks, makes ink, creates a whole new language, and convinces the neighborhood kids that they should help him, and also buy his fruit-derived sunscreen/bug repellant at a high price.

The glorious illustrations by Maine’s own Kevin Hawkes make this one that the kids love, and I like the not-so-subtle message about following your own path so you can stick it to your former tormenters. Henry especially is right on with the idea of creating an entire civilization based on one boy.

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Little Mr. Smartypants

August 7, 2009

Eli’s question of the day: “So, Mommy, we’re diurnal, right?”

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CATEGORIES: thirty second post
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